Travelling during COVID-19

I have just returned from my first overseas trip in five months, and although I was so excited to finally get away (and back to my favourite city; Amsterdam), I was also a little apprehensive at how drastically different the travelling may be. While there were notable changes – mainly to facilitate social distancing – the whole process at both airports ran smoothly and efficiently and I felt safe.

I flew out from London Luton, and from the moment I entered the airport, there were clear signs to follow and plenty of hand sanitiser stations to use.

I’d already checked in online (which is encouraged by most airlines now) and so I proceeded straight to security with my mobile boarding pass. Security was very quiet – I assume due to the fact number of flights is currently reduced – and there were plastic screens up to keep passengers separate when putting your belongings into trays.

Once through into the departure lounge, there were lots of signs stating the rules to ‘help protect yourself and others’, along with plenty of hand sanitiser stations. The seating areas had also been marked, with seats ranging from empty single chairs, those reserved for family groups and those which could not be used at all. Some food and drink outlets were open and allowed you to remove your mask for eating and drinking, as long as it was replaced as soon as you were finished. Shops such as WHSmith and Boots were also open.

Boarding the aircraft wasn’t too different from pre-COVID times, apart from a few small changes, such as scanning your own boarding pass and holding your own passport open to show staff rather than handing them over.

Once on the aircraft itself, there were no ‘spare’ or empty seats left between parties as some people predicted there would be, and we were asked to take our seats quickly and avoid walking around the aircraft. The cabin crew asked us to make sure there were only ever two people in the queue for the toilet at any time, and the on board magazines and menus had been temporarily removed. A reduced service was offered in terms of food and drink, and they no longer accept cash as payment.

Upon landing, disembarking was done in a very orderly fashion, and this is one thing I’d be more than happy to see stay long term! We left the plane row by row, only standing and retrieving bags from the overhead lockers once the row in front had moved.

There are currently forms that need filling in depending on which country you’re visiting, and your airline should inform you of this before your flight. I was never asked to show my health declaration form at passport control in Amsterdam, but I saw some people who were randomly selected to do so, so make sure you’ve filled in everything you need before you fly, just incase. When returning to the UK, you must complete an online form which can be found here. This cannot be completed until 48 hours before your return.

The return journey from Schiphol followed a similar pattern to my outbound journey, although the rules in The Netherlands are more relaxed than the UK and so masks were only necessary at the airport when passing through security and boarding the plane. Again, there were plenty of hand sanitiser stations and signs telling you to keep 1.5 meters apart (the distance necessary in The Netherlands). Schiphol have also set up a dedicated webpage with all of the information you need regarding travelling to and from the airport, your time in the airport and the most frequently asked questions from travellers. It was super helpful and something that we could really do with from the major UK airports too!

Overall, my travelling experience felt safe and well organised, and I wouldn’t hesitate to travel again in the near future (as long as government advice permits!)

For a full list of countries that can currently be visited from the UK, see the government list here.


Beat the budget airline

Flying with a low cost airline may mean cheap flights to your favourite destinations, but it can also mean hidden costs, luggage fees and sitting apart from the rest of your party. Listed below are the top three budget airlines in the UK, and the tips and tricks I’ve discovered to keep costs as low as possible.


They receive a lot of bad press, but there is no doubt Ryanair offers some of the cheapest flight prices to European destinations. Searching right now, I can find flights from London airports to Germany, France, Denmark and Poland all for under £10 each way – bargain! However, these flight prices do not include bags, food and drink or seat selection.

You have two options when booking with Ryanair – either choose between Standard, Plus or Flexi Plus packages, or stick to Standard and add priority boarding on at the next step. Confused? Us too. Stick with it.

The standard is the original fare, nothing extra, so no extra charge. Plus is around £40 more on the standard ticket and Flexi Plus is around £60 more. These allow you seat selection and luggage allowance. Full inclusions detailed below.

If you don’t want to pay for a package and just need a cabin bag allowed on board, consider adding priority. This is much cheaper, at £12 each way, so although you won’t get seat selection included, if all you want is a cabin bag then this is the way to go.


If you haven’t selected a package and have simply paid for priority to get a cabin bag on board, then selecting a seat can cost as little as £4 per flight, but quickly climbs to £13 if you want a seat towards the front of the plane. If it’s a short journey and you are not worried about sitting with with the other members of your party, skip the seat selection offer and let the airline randomly allocate you one free of charge.

If you wish to sit together, still always take the randomly allocated free option at first and hope that they will put you together. If they do not, you are then shown a map of all available seats, and often the will be empty seats next to each of your allocated ones (annoying!). Move one of your party and split the cost of the ticket between you. Saves you both paying to choose a seat in the first place!

Wizz Air:

The budget airline with its HQ in Hungary is becoming increasingly popular with British travellers, and for good reason. They offer a huge number of cheap flights from London to cities all over Europe, and the flight times generally aren’t bad either.

Wizz Air offer three options when booking, with their package options including seat selection and luggage that can be taken on board and/or checked into the hold. The packages on offer are below, and while the prices vary depending on flights, you can expect to pay around £40 extra for Wizz Go and £55 for Wizz Plus.

Wizz air also offer the option to sign up to the Wizz Discount Club for €29.99 a year, which I have found it very useful when flying several times a year with the airline, and have saved a fair bit of money above and beyond the €29.99 fee. They list their benefits online as the following:

  • guaranteed minimum discount of €10 on each flight on all fares from €19.99, anytime during your membership 
  • min. €5 discount on baggage purchased online
  • the discounts also apply to the reservation of the member’s travel companion (within the same booking as the member, maximum one more passenger per booking for a Standard Membership and up to 5 passengers for a Group Membership)
  • get informed about member-only promotional offers via email before others and get access to additional discounts after you subscribe to WIZZ Special Offers


easyJet offer slightly more in their standard ticket costs, including a cabin bag for each passenger, which takes the stress out of worrying about which ‘package’ you need to select. You have the option to upgrade to Flexi ticket, which allows changes to flight dates and times, plus checked 23kg bags, fast track security along with some other additions, but unless you are wanting to check a bag it really isn’t necessary.


If you haven’t selected the flexi ticket option, you will either be asked to choose and pay for a seat or to have one randomly allocated upon check in. Seats at the front of the plane are usually around £13.50, with seats towards the back going down to around £6.